WHAT A DIFFERENCE A GUITAR MAKES! For as long as I have had a guitar in my hands, I have had a lover. To put it simply, my guitar is my mistress. I use that word not in the sleazy connotation of a man’s extra-marital woman-on-the-side but according to the 6th meaning of “Mistress” given in the Oxford English Dictionary: “A woman, goddess, or thing personified as female that has control over a person or is regarded as a guiding influence”. To say that my guitar is a “guiding influence” in my life is an understatement. When my guitar sounds and feels wonderful in my hands and ears (which can change according to many variables, such as humidity level, the strings used, even the material of which the saddle pins are made, etc.) it makes me feel wonderful too. My guitar is an integral part of, and an extension of, myself. The sounds which come from her vary according to my mood; but her very presence in my life fills a vast hole where there would be one. Just as much as is my body, she is like the Graphical User Interface between my soul and the world. Just as much as in passionate lovemaking, she is a conduit for my soul’s creative expression. With my guitar close at hand, I am never alone. I am fulfilled. (I even have a sneak peek at her each night and sigh with gratitude before I go to bed 🙂 ).
I am not a great guitarist by any means. I am not even an especially good one; but my guitar is an integral part of my singer-songwriter identity. I write my songs on my guitar. I play my songs on my guitar. I perform my songs on my guitar. There are the three of us: me, the songs and the guitar. We are inseparable. Integral. Whole. The guitar is the inspiration in the centre of it all. We stand or fall together.
Yet, by way of the force of kismet (to which I bow with grace, knowing it always has a purpose), some while ago I found myself with an instrument of utilitarianism rather than inspiration and love. It checked all the right boxes but it wasn’t The One. This was a huge change which affected every aspect of my life and creative powers in relation to songwriting. There was something vital missing. This is partly why I haven’t written a song for nearly a year. I wasn’t blocked; it simply didn’t happen. I didn’t even want to try. No tonewoods — no tunes.
However, I bided my time — throwing myself exclusively into poetry and publishing a book of poems — having faith that my creative fortunes would change. Sure enough, recently a gorgeous masterpiece of rich American walnut and spruce which clearly match in frequency came into my hands and has remained in them ever since. (It found me rather than I found it). What a difference that has made! It reminds me of when I was a shortwave radio ham way back and I would spend nights trying to tune into some obscure channel coming from a noble basement on the other side of the world and what joy it was on discovering it! In the same way, it’s as if my guitar tunes into some perfect channel on the other side of the universe. I feel tuned-in — complete. Sustain chimes out. Overtones abound! I’m chuckling aloud at the thought of it. When the guitar is sweet then so am I. (Guitarists will know exactly what I mean).
Yes. What a difference a guitar makes…